Doctor Who is in trouble

Sources claim the revived series may be on its last legs.

Earlier this month, Private Eye, a British investigative journalism magazine published a story about BBC funding which indicated that Doctor Who would not be returning properly until 2013, after showing only a few special episodes in 2012 (like they did back in 2009).

Soon after, Sam Hodges, the Head of Communications for BBC, decided to come out and dispel the rumors on his twitter feed.

Now we’re getting reports that the truth may be somewhere in the middle.

The show is apparently having lots of behind-the-scenes issues, most of them stemming from BBC budget cuts, as the Eye reported.

Steven Moffat, the show’s lead writer and executive producer, has been struggling to keep the show inside the budget, and even had to ask Neil Gaiman to rewrite parts of his episode, The Doctor’s Wife, to cut back on effects (originally, Nephew was not originally written as an Ood).

Due to disagreements about what to cut, the producers and executive producers have had a falling out, seemingly centered on Exec Producer Piers Wegner.

The rest is a little confusing, as different outlets seem to have different stories on the matter of who angered who, and so forth, but the end result is that Wegner is gone from the show – and the BBC entirely – along with Producers Tracie Simpson and Peter Bennett – who moved to the new BBC program Baker Boys. As far as I can tell, this leaves just Exec Producer Beth Willis and Moffat himself in charge of the show.

What does all this come down to for fans? Firstly, It means that the second half of the current season is going to be late. Currently it is only announced as premiering sometime this year, but still planning to run all six episodes before the Christmas special (which only means it needs to start in early November). This means that the DVD will likely not be out in time for holiday gift-giving.

Secondly, it means that, in order to increase the amount of funds available per episode, the next season of Doctor Who is being split between years, with the first half showing in the Fall of 2012, and the second half beginning after the New year, with the Christmas special between.

It’s not so bad as the wait we had a couple years ago between seasons four and five, but it is disappointing, and it makes one wonder what is going on over at the BBC that they don’t think their most popular show (internationally) deserves a big enough budget to continue on course. Hopefully they get it figured out soon.

Or perhaps, they’ll completely give up on it, and an American production company will take over Doctor Who, like what happened with Torchwood. That would certainly be interesting.